GOOP: GO to San Francisco
In this week’s GOOP, Gwyneth advises you to GO to San Francisco. Cool, Gwyneth. Let’s go!
Oh but wait, I’ve already been. Twice.
In 2005, I was in my first year of grad school* (*not actual graduate school, but school after undergrad) in New York City. My classmate and BFF Kamila was getting married the first day of summer break just north of San Francisco. She invited me (thx!) and another girlfriend (“GF”) from school. VACATION!!! GF and I planned a five day trip to the city and surrounding areas. The plan was simple. We’ve fly in, rent a car, drive to the Marin County wedding, stay there two days, drive back to SF, and spend a few days checking out the city. It was going to be my first time west of the Mississippi. I was excited. A week or so before the big finals week/vacation week extravaganza, GF changed the plans a bit. She was going to stop home in Idaho first, then we’d meet at the Oakland airport as originally planned. Um, OK.
The first leg of the trip went according to plan. The SuperShuttle driver picked me up at precisely 4:00am as promised. But I was the only one in the van. That’s normal right? It’s also normal for him to take a backroad scenic route through Queens? And sing to me the whole time? Good, I thought maybe that was weird. The layover in my hometown of Chicago was so brief I barely had time to get a Cinnabon and Jamocha latte. As I waited to board with my 3000 calorie breakfast, my phone rings. It was GF calling from Idaho. She wasn’t coming. I called my mom because this is a moment in life when you call your mom. She offered to come get me at the airport. Tempting. I didn’t know how to drive, which was kind of a major part of the vacation. The flight attendant told me to get off the phone. I guess I was going.
I called the bride-to-be to explain the situation when I landed in Oakland. I took a bus north. Kamila’s fiancé picked me up. I’m sure a trip to the bus depot to collect someone he barely knew was just the relaxing day-before-the-wedding activity he had in mind. That or golf. ”Whoa, what mountain is that?” I asked half a dozen times. They were all hills. The midwest is flat, OK?
I was able to cancel my hotel reservations at the wedding location, a relief after my date stood me up with four nights booked. Kamila let me stay in her room the night before. I was turning out to be quite the pain in the ass. She left me in the care of her sister-in-law on the big day. Huge mistake. I was sloshed before the ceremony started. I hear it was a beautiful wedding.
I crashed with the bridesmaids that night and was able to score a ride down to the city the next day. My hotwire.com hotel room was nothing to email home about, but it was cheap and centrally located. Gwyneth recommends staying at the Four Seasons but cautions the brand can be “hit or miss.” Ha. I’m pretty sure Four Seasons’ are always a “hit.” She has some nice looking restaurant choices too. I ate Quiznos both days. It was good. Mmmm mmmm mmmmm mmmm TOASTY! I hit all the tourist traps BY MYSELF. Did I mention that I was all ALONE this whole time? I was alone the whole time. Gwyneth never mentions Alcatraz or Fisherman’s Wharf. Glaring oversight. The SuperShuttle got me back to the airport without further incident.
I went back to San Francisco in 2008 with my boyfriend. We rented this tiny car.
It had a laminated map with a guided tour through the speakers. Brilliant! It couldn’t go up all the hills, so I’d have to get out and push. Every touristy guide to San Francisco, including GOOP, only has to be six words long: RENT A GOCAR. POSE WITH IT.
We ended the that trip with a perfect outdoor dinner party across the Bay. Wes’s cousin and his girlfriend prepared a feast as we talked with their friends about our “total San Fran experience.” We saw all the sights, even felt an earthquake. ”Did you have gay sex?” someone asked. Good point.